RVNA Today: green spaces linked with improved health

Many studies have been done to evaluate the positive benefits of green space on an individual’s mental and physical well-being. People living in areas with higher levels of green vegetation have been found to have lower levels of depression, increased social engagement and higher levels of physical activity.

Being in or near nature helps to alleviate mental fatigue and restore the mind, which can improve job and school performance and help to reduce mental stress and illness. One study from the Harvard School of Public Health of 100,000 women nationwide determined that women living in the highest levels of greenness had a 12% lower rate of death compared to women who lived in the least green areas.

The mental and physical health benefits can be attributed to many factors. Less depression could be the result of more time spent outside in green spaces, providing greater exposure to vitamin D, which helps to reduce depression. Green spaces also invite people outdoors, where they are more physically active and therefore likely to be healthier.

Exercise also improves cognitive function, learning and memory.   Outdoor activities can help to alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia. In addition, greener environments generally have lower levels of pollution, meaning that the risk of respiratory disease may be reduced. So regularly step outside and enjoy nature. It’s greening up all around us, and it’s good for your health.